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Pawnbrokers Thrive as Poorest Aussies Bear Brunt of Slowdown

On a sidewalk in Sydney’s Bankstown neighborhood, where unemployment is more than double Australia’s average, Dave Cox pulls the starter cord of an edge trimmer to prove it works as he tries to sell it to pawnbroker Cash Converters International Ltd.

“The economy is pretty crap right now,” 38-year-old truck driver Cox, who’s between jobs, said after he offloaded the snipper for A$30 ($28). In the past month, he sold an iPhone and got a loan at Cash Converters, whose sales last year grew faster than any other Australian retailer that didn’t make a major acquisition. “It just feels bad out there.”